Bill Matsikoudis, a 2017 Jersey City mayoral candidate, teamed up with Civic JC to ask a super PAC previously linked to Mayor Steven Fulop’s expected gubernatorial run, which is now off the table, to give back the $1.46 million that came from individuals with ties to the city.
Civic JC President Esther Wintner sent a letter to the Coalition for Progress Treasurer Ana Rivas on September 28 claiming they are barred from making any contributions to Fulop’s re-election campaign or regarding the local referendum because it has accepted contributions from Jersey City contractors and developers.
“There will be an issues with the pay-to-play laws again because of the donors that donated to the super PAC and good number of them that have contracts with the City of Jersey City,” Wintner said during a small press conference at mayoral candidate Bill Matsikoudis’ office.
“So any of the monies that were donated to the super PAC, if the monies were used in the municipal elections to support the mayor’s campaign or to work in opposition of his opponents, or any of the referenda in the city would be a violation to pay-to-play laws.â€
Back in March, only Hudson County View reported that Progressive New Jersey Inc., an entity that donated $400,000 to Coalition for Progress, had ties to District 5 Democratic congressional candidate Josh Gottheimer and ex. Gov. Jim McGreevey (D), who now runs the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.
However, an amended filing indicates that this donation was refunded on May 6.
We also exclusively reported that the PAC raised $360,000 through March 30 of this year, with some donors having ties to Jersey City.
Additionally, after months of scrutiny from good government groups like Civic JC, the $1 million donor was finally revealed as Vivek Garipalli, the co-founder of CarePoint Health, in July.
Prior to this, the seven-figure donation was attributed to DE First Holdings, an essentially anonymous corporation.
According to The Jersey Journal, 27 out of the 58 donations, which totaled $1.46 million, are from businesses who either received contracts from autonomous agencies or developers who received tax breaks from the city.
“We all know that this PAC was created at the behest of Steve Fulop and the benefit of Steve Fulop’s gubernatorial campaign which ended before it began,” Matsikoudis exclaimed at last night’s presser.
Matsikoudis further stated that city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill has previously noted that the any PAC or super PAC that receives donations for Jersey City vendors should not be involved in the municipal election.
To address the pay-to-play “loop holes,” Matsikoudis worked with Jersey City Ward D Councilman Michael Yun to draft two ordinances in July.
1) Prohibits contract awardees from contributing to the mayor or to the city council and to extend that to autonomous agencies.
2) To extend the period of time someone was barred from the no bid contract beyond the one year, but until the contract terminates and to have it apply to super PACs.
However, neither ordinance has been introduced to the city council yet.
The letter further states that under City Ordinance 08-128, legal actions can occur “if the invalidation of contracts affected by your organization (Coalition of Progress) actions” and all of the 27 Coalition for Progress donors in question received a copy of this letter.
Matsikoudis added that it’s important the donors are made aware of this violation because they can lose their contracts with the city.
Coalition for Progress President Bari J. Mattes and Stu Loeser, a spokesman for the group, did not return an email seeking comment yesterday while Morrill did not return an email sent this morning.
Chief News Correspondent John Heinis contributed to this report.